A 31-year-old Army veteran was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for gunning down another man in an Anaheim park three years ago.
Adam Jay Stone of Anaheim was convicted in April of murdering 29-year-old Alexander McMoore on Jan. 7, 2015, at Twila Reid Park.
Co-defendant Ransom Lewis Cook, 27, previously pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to time served in jail.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson said Stone should be “applauded” for enlisting in the military and serving two tours of duty in Iraq, but she said she was also “mindful” of the crimes of which the jury convicted him.
The judge denied Stone’s request to strike a gun-use enhancement, which doubled his punishment, because Stone put some planning into the killing and returned to the scene after a conflict with the victim to shoot him.
Cook, who met Stone in the Army reserves, was giving his friend a ride home when the defendant asked to take a quick detour to the park to “see a friend,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy said.
Stone fired twice when he stepped out of the car at the park, and then he got back in and told his friend to drive away, McGreevy said.
When Cook asked what had just happened, Stone replied, “I took care of it,” adding that McMoore had “punked me,” according to the prosecutor.
The pair drove back to Cook’s home, where Cook handed the .38-caliber revolver Stone used to shoot McMoore to another friend, McGreevy said.
Cook told his Army buddy “you’ve got to go,” so Stone rode away on his skateboard, McGreevy said.
A witness had jotted down the license plate of Cook’s car at the shooting scene, helping police quickly track down Stone at a liquor store near Cook’s home and arrest him, McGreevy said.
Stone’s attorney, Rob Flory, told jurors that his client served two tours of duty in Iraq, volunteering to run dangerous convoy missions in the war-torn country.
Stone has been diagnosed with PTSD and was “medicating” himself with heavy drinking and smoking marijuana at the park daily because his mother said she did not want him using the drug at her home, Flory said.
While at the park near his home, he encountered the victim, whose “street name” was Buddha, Flory said. McMoore, who wore his hair in a Mohawk style, had a reputation for violence and brandishing a gun, according to Flory, who said McMoore had multiple tattoos “designed to evoke fear. Buddha relished that… He liked to throw his weight around.”
McMoore “robbed” Stone of his marijuana shortly before the shooting, Flory said. The next time Stone went to the park, he did not bring extra marijuana and when McMoore demanded the drug from him, Stone said he didn’t have any more, Flory said.
That prompted McMoore to warn Stone that if he came back to the park, he would attack him, Flory claimed. He said his client decided that he would return to the park with a gun to scare off McMoore.
McMoore’s aunt, Tulimalefoi Martina-Sagapolu, said after Friday’s hearing that her nephew was not violent and got the nickname Buddha when he was a child because he was “chubby” and had “sleepy eyes.”
Martina-Sagapolu said McMoore was “not a thug,” and he was not a transient, as the defense attorney claimed.
“He lived with me,” she said.
McMoore grew up in Samoa, and was raised by his grandparents because his mother died at 27, when her son was just 2, Martina-Sagapolu said.
When he graduated high school he moved to California, she said.
“He loved to play football,” and was on a team at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita for a short while, his aunt said.
“He was an artist — he loved to draw,” she said. “And he loved to play music and rap. He always had a guitar around his back, rapping, playing island music… He wasn’t violent. He never threatened anybody.”
McMoore’s family forgave the defendant, she said.
“We have to believe in our faith,” she said. “We’re not the judge, as my father always said.”